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Heating And Cooling

Reviewed: the latest electric heaters for 2018

As temperatures around the country plummet, you don’t have to suffer cold feet. An electric heater can help keep you cosy without pushing up your energy bills – provided you buy the right model. If you’re thinking of buying a new heater, it’s definitely worth doing your homework first.

There are many types of portable electric heaters to choose from, including some that don’t match up to power claims or aren’t energy efficient. We’ve also come across some electric heaters that take a lifetime to heat up your room, or are so noisy, you can’t hear the TV. Just want to know which heaters are the best?

Go to our Best Buy electric heaters[1].

Which heaters meet the new EU standard?

As we previously reported, any new electric heaters sold in the EU[2] will need to comply with an updated set of regulations. The new legislation, EcoDesign Lot 20, is set to improve the efficiency and performance of electric heaters. We tested our most recent batch of heaters to the new heating standard to find out if they’re energy efficient, and we’ve found some models that fall short of the regulations.

If a heater fails the standard, it is still safe to use and, provided it was manufactured prior to 2018, it can still be legally sold. But a heater that doesn’t meet the standard lacks the same energy efficiency and performance of one that does. Some retailers may try to clear old non-compliant stock early in 2018.

Be wary of big sales or significant reductions in price; these heaters may or may not have the energy-saving features that are included in the legislation. So even though you’ll save on the purchase price, you’ll end up paying for it in the long run on your energy bills. To find out which models pass the grade, see our in-depth electric heater reviews[3].

Are there any dangers to using an electric heater?

Unsurprisingly, our tests show that heaters get hot!

But as long as you use them according to their instructions, they are safe appliances. Never place anything on a portable heater or cover it up, as it massively increases the risk of a fire. Some heaters have a ’tilt protection’ feature – if the heater is knocked over, it will automatically switch itself off.

It’s worth considering this feature if you have enthusiastic children or pets.

Nearly all have some kind of carry handle for moving them about, and many have a safety cut-out feature – this will switch off the heater if it gets dangerously hot. Find out more about how to buy the best electric heater[4].

Latest electric heater reviews for 2018

We’ve tested and reviewed eight different electric heaters. The results of this batch were a mixed bag, with some models performing under par.

Some of the heaters struggled to maintain an even temperature when the conditions changed (for example, if you open a door and let cold air in). So you’ll find that the room temperature drifts by several degrees as the thermostat tries to adjust. To make sure we only recommend energy-efficient heaters, we measure how much electricity it takes for the heater to heat our 3.5x4m test room.

The longer a heater runs, the more electricity it uses. In our tests, a heater that scores three stars out of five for efficiency uses 40% more energy than a five-star heater. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a great heater to keep you warm and comfortable.

The cheapest Best Buy uncovered in our tests starts from less than GBP40.

Our latest electric heater test results


  1. ^ Best Buy electric heaters (
  2. ^ new electric heaters sold in the EU (
  3. ^ electric heater reviews (
  4. ^ how to buy the best electric heater (

Top tips for keeping warm and safe in the cold weather

The Met Office has issued yellow and amber alert warnings across the UK, with widespread snow and sub-zero temperatures predicted for the rest of this week. Even those in areas with blue skies overhead will be treated to bitterly cold winds and occasional flurries of snow, with the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap expected to last into March. If you weren’t prepared for what could turn out to be the coldest spring in 27 years, Which? reviews and top tips should help you and your family stay toasty and safe.

How to keep warm and safe in this week’s cold weather

In the short term, there are several solutions to help you keep your home and family warm and safe without having to spend too much.

Get an electric heater

An electric heater can be more cost-effective than turning up your central heating, especially if you’re only trying to heat a single room that gets colder than the rest of your home.

The latest electric heaters have to conform to ‘LOT 20’ efficiency standards[1], so you can rest assured that if you’re buying a heater from a reputable retailer, you’ll be getting the latest in energy efficiency.

Which? tests dozens of electric heaters every year in some very challenging environments, including a refrigerated chamber to simulate the worst-insulated rooms. We’ve found you don’t need to break the bank to get a quality model. Indeed, our cheapest Best Buy electric heater[2] costs around GBP30.

Adjust your central heating controls

This may seem obvious, but having a tinker with your thermostat, radiator valves and boiler can make a world of difference, especially if you haven’t touched them in ages.

Having your heating come on earlier, or staying on for longer, could have a big effect on how warm your home feels. If you have a room thermostat/s, make sure it has a free flow of air around it so that it can sense and adjust the temperature accurately. Nearby electric fires, televisions or lamps could also stop them from working properly.

Read our full guide to heating controls[3] for our top five money-saving tips.

Fix common boiler faults

We’ve surveyed over 10,000 Which? members to find the most common boiler problems[4] that’ll affect the performance of your central heating system. Up there at the very top is your boiler losing pressure, which you can fix yourself on many boilers.

If your boiler hasn’t had a check-up in a while, grant yourself some extra peace of mind with a boiler service[5] so it’s ready to go again when the weather deteriorates. If you’re having more serious problems, such as a leak or excessive noise, it could be time to replace your boiler altogether.

Which? reviews include insight from heating engineers and boiler owners, allowing you to choose the best boiler[6] for your budget.

Check in on elderly relatives

All of the above advice applies if you have elderly relatives, and it’s important that their home’s temperature doesn’t drop below 16?C. So make sure their home is set up for a sudden cold spell so they’re not left struggling in the cold. Check whether they have:

  • thick clothes – wool ones will maintain heat better than cotton;
  • slippers, particularly sheepskin ones;
  • electric blankets[7] or heated chair pads;
  • a properly functioning heating system.

Visit our full guide to keeping elderly relatives warm[8] in the cold weather for more details.

Ensure your baby is sleeping safely

It’s important to keep your baby’s sleeping environment at a stable and comfortable temperature, between 16?C and 20?C.

Make sure the sudden drop in temperature (and subsequent rise back to normal spring weather) doesn’t catch you out. Our baby sleeping tips[9] and bedding safety guide[10] go into detail on how to keep your little one safe and sound.

Preparing for the next cold snap

Get underfloor heating

If you have one room that gets particularly cold, fitting underfloor heating could be a great option, especially if the room doesn’t already have a radiator or is poorly insulated with cold floor materials, such as stone or tiles. An off-the-shelf electric underfloor heating system will start at around GBP250, excluding installation.

Our guide to underfloor heating[11] runs you through the pros and cons of buying a new system and includes insight from Which? members who have bought underfloor heating themselves.

Buy a wood-burning stove

A wood-burning stove not only looks great, but installing one could actually save you money in the long run. However, you’ll have to balance savings against the initial cost, which could be as much as GBP1,999, not including installation. Our guide to wood-burning stoves[12] takes you through the basics of fuel types, how to choose the right stove and wattage, and what’s involved in installation.

Take a look at smart thermostats

If you’ve ever wanted to adjust your heating from your bed or on the commute home, an app-controlled smart thermostat could be for you.

They can be installed in place of your existing thermostat and claim to save you money from the get-go. Some even have the ability to track your location so they turn on automatically when you’re on your way home. Perfect for those with unpredictable schedules.

Visit our smart thermostat reviews[13] and advice guides to help you decide whether getting one is right for you.

Consider winter tyres for your car

Winter tyres cost as little as GBP50 a corner and the extra tread and supple materials can significantly improve grip and stability in temperatures below 7?C.

Having a spare set in your garage in preparation for the winter months could be a worthwhile investment, especially as they’re not just useful in snow and ice – they can help if you live in a more remote area with poorly maintained roads.

Our in-depth advice on winter tyres[14] and snow socks[15] details the pros and cons of splashing out on extra kit for your car.


  1. ^ ‘LOT 20’ efficiency standards (
  2. ^ Best Buy electric heater (
  3. ^ heating controls (
  4. ^ most common boiler problems (
  5. ^ boiler service (
  6. ^ best boiler (
  7. ^ electric blankets (
  8. ^ keeping elderly relatives warm (
  9. ^ baby sleeping tips (
  10. ^ bedding safety guide (
  11. ^ guide to underfloor heating (
  12. ^ guide to wood-burning stoves (
  13. ^ smart thermostat reviews (
  14. ^ winter tyres (
  15. ^ snow socks (

Top tips for a warm and healthy home for 2018

With Christmas festivities finished and months of winter stretching ahead of us, January can seem the bleakest, coldest and dampest month. To help beat any winter blues, follow our tips to make your home feel warmer and cosier – and perhaps save money in the process. To help you get started, we’ve rounded-up some of the best Which? tips on insulation, dealing with damp, home heating, clearing the air and saving money on gas and electricity.

Keep reading to keep cosy, and start 2018 as you mean to go on – by saving some money.

1. Insulate your home and stop draughts

If you live in a home without loft insulation you could be spending up to GBP225 more a year on heating. Plus, with heat escaping freely up into your loft, chances are you’ll feel the chill sooner once your heating goes off.

You should aim to install 270mm-thick insulation in your loft. It will cost around GBP300 for a three-bedroom semi-detached house, but it should pay for itself in less than two years through the savings you’ll make on your heating bills. See prices and savings for loft insulation[1] for other home types.

If you already have loft insulation, these can help keep your home cosier: Draught-proofing can also be a quick way to make your home warmer. Look for unwanted gaps and openings such as around windows, doors, chimneys, letter boxes, loft hatches and pipework.

Follow our draught-proofing tips[2] to seal them.

2. Get rid of damp

Whether it’s rising damp, penetrating damp or condensation, it’s important to get it sorted as soon as possible as living with mould can be bad for your health. Different types of damp need to be treated in different ways.

Find out which type of damp[3] is affecting your home and the likely causes. Condensation is the most common, and is caused by moist air condensing on walls and windows. It’s often worse in winter or if your home is poorly ventilated.

A dehumidifier can help cure damp issues. Our expert testing has revealed the best dehumidifier[4] for your home.

3. Heat your home effectively

Using your heating controls cleverly can help you avoid using more energy than necessary.

Keep each room at the temperature you need it without overheating, and keep your heating bills down.

  • Choose the best heating controls[5] for your boiler and home. You should have a programmable room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves in all rooms (besides the one with the thermostat).
  • Program your heating to work only when your home is occupied.
  • Zone your heating so it focuses on the rooms you use most, and reduce heating to any rarely-used rooms.
  • Turn down your thermostat by 1?C. This can save up to GBP90 a year in a typical home.

    Start at 18?C and increase the temperature a degree at a time until you’re comfortable.

  • Fit curtains and draught excluders, and close doors to keep warm air where you want it.
  • If your boiler need replacing, make sure you pick one that’s reliable – discover the most reliable boiler brands[6].
  • A smart thermostat[7] lets you control your heating from your mobile phone or tablet, and some can learn your routine to optimise your heating schedule.

4. Cut your energy bills

If you’re concerned about the cost of keeping warm, switching energy supplier can help cut the costs of heating without reducing your use. If you’re on a standard tariff with one of the Big Six energy firms – British Gas[8], EDF Energy[9], Eon[10], Npower[11], Scottish Power[12] and SSE[13] – you could save more than GBP300 in a year by switching to a cheap tariff with one of the smaller energy suppliers.

Not sure how to get started? Read our simple steps to switch energy supplier[14], then compare gas and electricity prices[15] with Which? Switch.


Clear the air

The air quality in your home can suffer thanks to measures meant to keep your home warm and cosy. Insulation and double-glazing help to keep heat in and reduce your energy bills. But they can also seal in pollutants created from cooking, using cleaning products and toiletries, and open fires.

A good quality air purifier[16] will help tackle the problem. Our tests find out which models remove allergens and capture polluting particles best, and warn you which purifiers to avoid. We’ve found one air purifier that was so poor at extracting pollen and smoke, its scores were too low to be recorded officially – discover our Don’t Buy air purifier[17].

Other steps you can take to improve the air quality in your home include:

  • Opening the windows
  • Vacuuming regularly to remove dust and pet hair
  • Choosing easy-to-clean hard floors rather than carpets
  • Using fewer scented candles (or opening a window afterwards)
  • Fitting or using your bathroom fan to remove the after effects of toiletries and cleaning products
  • Switching on cooker hoods or kitchen extractor fans during and after cooking.


  1. ^ prices and savings for loft insulation (
  2. ^ draught-proofing tips (
  3. ^ type of damp (
  4. ^ best dehumidifier (
  5. ^ best heating controls (
  6. ^ reliable boiler brands (
  7. ^ smart thermostat (
  8. ^ British Gas (
  9. ^ EDF Energy (
  10. ^ Eon (
  11. ^ Npower (
  12. ^ Scottish Power (
  13. ^ SSE (
  14. ^ simple steps to switch energy supplier (
  15. ^ compare gas and electricity prices (
  16. ^ air purifier (
  17. ^ Don’t Buy air purifier (

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